Friday, 20 June 2008

Dawkins' book

Well, I started reading The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. It seems to be a book that is surrounded with controversy and has a lot of popularity in undergraduate academia...or at least the particular part I'm in. I was pretty sure from the outset (when I first heard the premise) that the book would be laughable, but given the amount of people, presumably reasonable people, who say it's convincing (albiet ones who were already convinced before reading it), I thought I'd really better read it before judging.

I had expected it to be either an intelligent book that was slightly infuriating in its good logic (ie. it wasn't easy for me to shoot down), or a book full of ridiculously transparent arguments. The latter would have been immediately satisfying, but worrisome in the long run (ie. how can so many people buy this? what's the world coming to?); the former would be more frustrating, also worrisome in the long run (ie. what if he manages to convince too many people?), but more rewarding when/if I puzzle my way through the argument.

What I did not expect is a book with no argument at all, but almost pure rhetoric, laced with logical fallacies. Now, I am not even half-way through yet, so I can't come down on Dawkins too hard. By now I know it's stylistically flawed and that, were I a TA, I would be forced to give him a poor grade for lack of explication and general organizational problems. But I cannot yet speak for the argument. I had just expected for there to be one by this point (page 70 something, I think?).

Anyway, when I'm done I'll post my assesment of it. Don't worry, atheist readers (if there are any--I don't really think my blog is terribly well-read), I will concede the good points he has made, and the parts that really are funny. But I will also point out the parts that seem calculatedly offensive (or at least some of them; there are many) and the parts where he claims to have proved his point when he hasn't even begun to prove it.

I have to take breaks when reading it, though, or else I get all hyped up on thinking and can't sleep, and then I'm all stupid at work.

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